By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Charinee Mitchell was visibly upset with her team's play in the fourth quarter of Saturday's blowout win over Allen.
"If we want to beat the top teams in this league, we have to step on their throats," she said.
When her team returned home on Wednesday, Mitchell got her wish, and her team responded with their most impressive victory of 2018.
Jada Washington had 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and a steal, the Broncbusters ratcheted up their defense, and Garden City rolled through second-place Independence 57-43 at Conestoga Arena.
"I'm so proud of these kids," Mitchell said after the game. "We won this one with our post defense. We made them work all night long."
The Broncbusters smothered Independence into a season-low 33-percent shooting night. In fact, Independence (16-4, 14-4) missed 21 of their first 26 shots.
"We had a lot of energy on that side of the ball," Mitchell said. "Our players stuck to the game plan."
Not only did Garden City hold the second-best shooting team in the conference in check, they also outmuscled them on the glass, becoming the first team to outrebound Independence all season.
"It all goes into effort, and these kids gave tremendous effort tonight," Mitchell added.
The game featured three lead changes and two ties in the first 10 minutes. But after Jordan Schoenberger's offensive rebound and stick back knotted the score at 11, Garden City (13-9, 10-8) took it from there. Jada Washington answered with a driving layup; then hit two free throws before Kelcy McHenry buried a corner 3 at the end of the period, giving the Broncbusters an 18-13 lead after one.
"We had to make them work and limit their touches," Mitchell said. "Plus, we had to box them out. We succeeded in all of those areas."
That killer instinct that Mitchell has been searching for all year was on full display in the second quarter. Washington hit another layup, McHenry added her second 3, Talia Roberts, back after missing two games with an injury, split a pair of free throws, and Daz'Monique Johnson blocked Schoenberger's layup on one end before nailing an 18-footer from the foul-line circle on the other. All told, Garden City rattled off 11 straight points to build their lead to 13 with 3:13 to go in the half. They were up 11 at the break. It was only the third time all season that the Pirates were down going into the locker room.
"I didn't think of how many points that we were up by," Mitchell said. "I just fight to win. And our team just fought so hard."
After letting up a bit in the fourth on Saturday, the Broncbusters kept their foot firmly on the accelerator in the third period, building their lead to 20 on the heels of a 10-2 run that Abigail Green punctuated with a floater in the paint. She added another bucket early in the fourth, giving Garden City their biggest lead, 47-25 with 9:30 to play.
"Good things come when you work hard," Mitchell said. "And we haven't been easy on these girls in practice. And it showed up in the game today."
Independence came into Wednesday night's game having scored 20 or more points in the first quarter nine times. They were limited to 13 in the opening frame on just 3-of-12 shooting, and mustered only five points in the second. And while the final score may have indicated something totally different, the Pirates endured their most through beating since a 31-point loss to Cowley County on Dec. 6.
"We knew in the back of our minds what happened when we played them the first time," Mitchell said. "We watched that film, and we made the proper adjustments."
Back in November, Garden City trailed by 42 points in the third quarter before losing by 36. Oh how the script was flipped on this night.
Shakendra Tilley chipped in 10 points and seven rebounds for Garden City, who improved to 8-3 in their last 11 games. Roberts and McHenry each netted seven as nine different Broncbusters scored.
Schoenberger was the lone Pirate in double figures with 10 points. She was 3-for-3 from the field while the rest of her team was a combined 12-of-42 (29 percent).
Next up: Garden City vs. Dodge City-Saturday, Feb. 3-1:45 p.m. pregame; 2 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app